I was extremely concerned to see The Times of India printing an article that misrepresents OCD in such a dangerous way.
Today, they reported that police have decided to put Sneha Swakhyar Samal, accused of a triple murder, to a psychological test, claiming his behaviour was ‘like that of a psychopath’.
Asking ‘an expert’ who professes to be a psychiatrist for comment, they published this:
‘Psychiatrists said the behaviour, observed by police in Samal, is that of an insane person. “There are people, who are suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension and obsessions. We learnt Samal nurtured a grudge against the doctor just because he prescribed costly tests for his daughter’s treatment. Such type of behaviour is expected from insane people,” said psychiatrist Surjeet Sahoo.’
Oh boy. Where to begin. Let’s start with talking about intrusive thoughts. Although many people are unaware of this, and believe OCD would only cause someone to obsessively tidy up or straighten things, intrusive thoughts form a major part of OCD for many people.
They are unwanted ideas, images and thoughts that pop into the mind of a sufferer and cause them huge anxiety. Very often, they are about harming other people. Someone with OCD may be plagued with thoughts of stabbing someone, or fears that they are a paedophile. An intrusive thought is not a grudge, as the psychiatrist here insinuates.
To be clear: intrusive thoughts are symptomatic of an overwhelming fear of doing something wrong. They would never lead someone to commit a crime. The anxiety at the idea of doing such a thing would cripple a sufferer in horror.
A person with OCD is characterised as being extremely anxious, and would be the last person to murder someone. Technically speaking, someone with OCD is basically at exactly opposite end of the spectrum to a psychopath. To see The Times of India linking the two is extremely worrying. Anyone who reads this article and does not have some concept of the nature of OCD will walk away with a completely inaccurate perception of the disorder.
Finally, someone who has OCD is not insane. Ok. They just aren’t. Having a mental illness does not equal insanity.
Please apologise and amend this article before any further damage is done Times of India.